Stories From A Yellow Room

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What's Art all about??

“The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.”
I joined the art appreciation course at National Museum, being devoid of any artistic talent. Having no particular notion of what the course beheld for me, I would like to state that sometimes not-knowing is better than knowing. The course spanned over twenty classes setting forth significant eras and periods where man’s artistic talent gave birth to some of the most historic creations in the world.
Talking from a naïve point of view, all of us travel to or visit places of historical importance. We see magnificent monuments, accompanied by local guides; we stand in front of a piece of art and allow our varied senses to appreciate the presence of that work. But rarely do we allow ourselves to enter the period the work belongs to. It is by doing that, that we can truly understand the challenges of construction, social constraints on individual artists and the ideological representation of the work etc.
Having attended the course, I respect now the aesthetic and thought behind each and every work of art. From being naïve and completely un-‘enlightened’ about the history, sources and thought behind a piece of art, I came to realize the vision and sheer passion of an artist. Be it the artists who painted the Ajanta caves, devoid of any modern day methodology of pursuing their skill or the architectural brilliance of the Blue Mosque in Turkey, what they (artists\architects) achieved was timeless works of art, that froze in time, giving it a life, a spirit and identity of it’s own. An artist, a man, a mere mortal, constantly tries to immortalize him\herself through his\her work of art. Centuries later we bring alive the artist, through his work, studying the socio-political aspect of his time, carefully observing the intent of the artist, the mind of the artist.
Through this course we set forth on a journey moving to and fro, through various periods of art, studying the epitome of perfection that mankind reached by putting forth his skills as an artist. Canvases were given a life through a drop of paint, temples and mosques bedecked to awe inspiring brilliance. Ordinary was transformed into the extraordinary as man toiled and paid attention to decorative aspects of the plainness around him.
Having studied different regions, cultures, religions we saw that no work of art is independent of meaning and relativity. Every gesture, posture or symmetry has a meaning be it religious, mathematical, mythical or superstitious. Art then becomes a medium of expressing the attitude, belief and splendour of every culture. Kings and dynasties savoured good pieces of art and architecture. It is through this vision and taste we see today symbols of such devotion towards one’s vision for art. The gigantic Taj Mahal, a monument of extraordinary perfection, the pyramids of Egypt, Eiffel tower, all representing different era’s, different artists and distinct belief yet disseminating the same sense of craftsmanship and creativity .
Some of my favourite moments were classes on Modern Art. Modernism a movement invented to capture the very complex and evolving mind of man, who now moved beyond the traditional representation of life to a more abstract level of self-expression, produced some of the most ethereal works. Works of contemporaries such as Van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse, Monet, Pollock, Seraut, Cezzane, Warhol etc, were innovative as well as distinct.
Thus Art is something not limited purely to Art lovers. Anyone and everyone can actually enjoy art in any shape or form. All you need is an open mind and a sight that respects the vision that it sees.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Social Networking, Anyone???

After the instant success of Hi5, Orkut and Facebook, Internet users are anxiously waiting for another of their “type” to propagate. The popularity and craze for such websites has been gaining momentum since socializing and public display render these sites as tempting and very addictive.
It started with Hi5, a step ahead of messengers, a web page dedicated to you, your likes and dislikes, friends, enemies, lovers etc. Soon people were discovering whereabouts of long lost friends. From Patiala to Paris, everyone was connecting or rather “networking” with one another via means of fancy testimonials. Orkut soon followed and Hi5 seemed to mark its exit slowly. Along with Orkut came a completely new jargon, that of “scraps” and “fans” and some of the vaguest communities one could possibly imagine (such as “my name starts with s”). The “scrapping clan” was soon found conversing in a lingo that easily differentiated an “orkutian” from a “non-orkutian”. The world was gradually shrinking, one could search for any name and find volumous results and voila! There she was Rakhi your 5th std friend, now all grown up and a fancy tattoo staring right back at you.
What is strangely amusing is the profile page one is made to fill up while joining these communities, these pages ensure that such “relevant” information would allow profile visitors to know how “unique you are”. Pages span from knowing your nationality, political views to minute details like the color of your eye socket, weight, height and other such petty yet surprisingly significant details. Thus your identity is soon fragmented, broken down into bits and pieces, perceived and consolidated by strangers and pals alike. Favorite books measure your intellectualism whereas English movies and rock music deem you “cool” and there you are all packaged and ready to sell. People view your profile (sending interesting friend requests and messages) rating it and so the economics of the whole situation is assessed.
Interestingly Brazilians top the list as Orkut users, accounting for 55.81% of total users, followed by the United States and India with 18.94% and 14.92% users respectively (as on 16th may 2007), age group varying from 18-25 forms the chunk of Orkut users. With members increasing by the day, communities are developing at an equal rate as well. Orkut offers a plethora of communities, ranging from religion, beauty tips, music, movies, food and other profound ideas. The aim of these communities is to attract like-minded people with similar interests enabling discussions and exchange of ideas (a Harry Potter community has about 1,58,901 members). Yet the propagation of hate groups is a major area of concern. Communities such as hate- India or anti Pakistan offer extreme views on countries, people and religion, which does not fit the idea of healthy communication. Futility of such communities is undeniable as they multiply the growth of extremist ideology, which in today’s world is unwanted. Religious and cultural tolerance should be reinforced thereby keeping a tab on personal views, which tend to hurt sentiments.
The ghastly number of scraps, which people see as a sort of accomplishment, reinforce the fact that humans especially females are capable of talking profusely. With private thoughts and conversations, being laid out bare for public viewing, individual discretion is distorted. People usually refrain from giving a thought to the kind and number of people who can have access to these conversations thereby acting imprudent. Personal pictures that are carefully selected (with an orbit-white smile, loreal hair and scenic backgrounds etc) are casually put up without knowing the repercussions of such an open display. Recent scams wherein personal information has been distorted and misused have been in limelight.
It is indeed a matter of praise that such websites have enabled thousands of people form new bonds, rediscover old friends, find like minded people etc yet not everyone aims for the same. Authenticity of such groups is lost when people aim at mere private publicity, sending out unwanted messages degrading the idea of authentic socializing. “Wanting happy friendship” messages become a matter of amusement as wasted romeos try their luck endlessly hoping to form “lifelong friendship”, but in vain. Well the point is clear, man is a social animal and cannot live in isolation so let the 21st century animals sorry men “orkutize” themselves giving out “hi5’s” to all the “faces(book)” out there, you never know when you will be “tagged”.
On this note let’s wait for another such online community and see what special features it has to offer.
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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

MADONNA-The Artist

Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘Madonna’ stands for its intense appeal and an ability to distinguish itself from other art works of that period.Madonna the singer does the same centuries later. Her intensity, talent and blasphemy canonize her and an image so distinct is created you wanna return to it every now and then. Remember her early posters…sheek black n white, short hair very Marylin Monroe…her beauty spot darkened……vintage, classic…very Madonna.
Born Auguat 1958, Bay City, Michigan, U.S.A and labelled by Guinness World Record as the “World’s Most Successful Female musician”, Madonna paved her way from being an ordinary young girl to a diva.
At 18 this girl declared she wanted to rule the world. She indeed did, influencing generations not only with her music but with her appeal, making her presence, her style, her music a trademark. She created a cult, a living myth, the material girl who with her innocence cud turn to a virgin and yet preach eroticism. Flouting norms, transgressing boundaries and laying open her sexuality publicly, her qualms were dismissed, her race dissolved and her gender did not hinder her from being who she wanted to be.
According to Guinness book of records she is the top earning female singer, this diva never had it easy for her, as she says…"When I came to New York it was the first time I'd taken a plane first time I'd ever gotten a taxi-cab, the first time for everything. And I came here with $35 in my pocket. It was the bravest thing I'd ever done.” She worked as a waitress, portrayed as a nude model and later performed with dance companies.While performing as a dancer for the French disco artist Patrick Hernandez on his 1979 world tour, Madonna became involved with the musician Dan Gilroy, with whom she later formed her first rock band, the Breakfast Club. DJ and record producer Mark Kamins was impressed by her demo recordings and he brought them to the attention of Sire Records founder Seymour Stein. She was soon signed and produced her first single “Everybody”. As luck had it, the song went to become a hit on billboard (dance and hip hop chart). This was the start of a journey wherein over the next decade this girl wud go on to become one of the most coveted artist in the music industry.
This was followed by her debut album ‘Madonna’ which produced 3 hits… “Borderline”, “Lucky star” and “Holiday”. This album was succeeded by her most prominent collection of songs “Like a Virgin”, with hits like “Material Girl” and “Like a Virgin” which declared madonna a quintessential female artist.As her popularity promulgated not only her music but she herself became iconic as a ethereal figure creating her own style represented by jewellery bearing the cross, netted stockins,bleached hair lace tops, skirts over tights. The early 80’s were highly influenced by her sense of style.
*Madonna's 1986 album True Blue prompted Rolling Stone to declare, "singing better than ever, Madonna stakes her claim as the pop poet of lower-middle-class America." The album included True Blue reached #1 in various countries and sold over eleven million copies worldwide. It produced five successful singles, which all reached the top five on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart: these included “Live to Tell”, “Papa Don't Preach”, “Open Your Heart”etc . I989 saw the release of her album Like a Prayer” *The video premiered on MTVand featured many Catholic symbols, such as stigmata. The video depicted a black man who comes to the rescue of a white girl. Although the video's intent was to denounce racism, Madonna was criticized for her use of burning crosses and "making out" with Jesus.

Her rise to stardom was accompanied by various controversies which were caused due to a sense of overtly auto erotic approach\appeal to her music and videos. In November 1990, Madonna released her first greatest hits compilation album, The Immaculate Collection, which included two new songs: “Justify My Love” and “Rescue Me” apart from “Vogue”, a tribute to Hollywood satrs and fashion. "Rescue Me," became the highest-debuting single by a female artist in U.S. chart history, entering the charts at number 15. The music video for “Erotica”
and “Justify my Love” were pulled off air due to their explicit content.What her videos contain were not just sexual images but rather pornographic elements, sado masochistic acts and homosexual love scenes. One of the videos shows madonna walkin thru a hallway being followed by a man, as she stops and makes love to him, the next scene shows madonna making love to a woman as the man looks on, in the same video women dress up like men, drawing moustaches as madonna laughs on. Symbols of crucification appear as well, men are effiminate and gender roles subverted as women dress like men and men are chained and appear in feminine garbs. The video ends with a rather blatant statement “poor is the man who’s pleasures depend on others”. It was deemed too sexually explicit for MTV, and was subsequently banned from the station. Warner Bros Records released the video as a video single — the first of its kind — and it became the highest-selling video single of all time. The album went on to sell over 22 million copies worldwide.The controversial music video that accompanied the song only aired three times on MTV due to its highly charged sexual content.
April until August 1990, Madonna toured Japan, North America, and Europe on her Blond Ambition World Tour. *Featuring now familiar religious and sexual themes and symbolism, the tour drew controversy from Madonna’s rather erotic actions enacted on stage.Thus she is blew off all sexual and religious notions putting forth rather horrifying and subversive images which she as an artist had the rite to do.
Despite all the negative criticism madonna continued to give her talent back to the world not only as a singer but a producer and even a capable actor. Movies like “Evita” and “Desperately Seeking Susan” among others, saw madonna in versatile roles. In 1996, Madonna’s most critically successful film, Evita was released. *The film's became her twelfth platinum album and produced two hit singles, “ Don’t cry for me Argentina” - her nineteenth number one in the US, and “You Must Love Me”, the latter of which was written specifically for the film. “You Must Love Me” won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Original Song From a Motion Picture. Her last few albums include “Ray of Light”(1998) , “American Life” (2003) and Grammy-winning “Confessions On a Dance Floor” (2005) along with various other chart topping singles.
The last few years have seen her juggle her role as a writer of children’s books, a song producer and she lately went ahead with adoption creating quite a stir. She thus remains and will remain the epitomy of sheer individualism. Reviving herself time and again but always adornig a distinct personality and a significant role.